Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Discussion That We Are Not Supposed To Be Having

What do you say after something like this?  What can you say that has not been said before?

Another campus/school shooting with 9 victims & one shooter dead. But the devastation doesn't stop there. There were additional victims wounded - some with very serious life altering injuries. Then there are the families. The wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, aunts & uncles and so on...

Some will argue this is not the time for this discussion. I know this because I have heard it ad-nauseam since 1968 when Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. That was the year I realized America had a problem with guns. Not simply because of these two deaths, but they shined a light on a growing problem. I began looking at the costs to this country for our easy access to firearms. That problem has only escalated exponentially as the numbers of guns have grown in this country. As concerned as I was back then, I never dreamed it would grow to the level we ave reached today. I believe those who say this is not the time are right. That time has passed and so this means we are late to the discussion. That means it  is appropriate to engage in it now.

I realize that the the issue of gun ownership is a nuclear-hot topic. I realize there are people who fear that the government is coming to take their guns. I also realize there are persons who are hell-bent on continuing to propagandize this idea, and even more people paranoid enough about it to take it to heart. This leads to a few observations:

  • That some pro-gun people/groups/lobbies actually want to perpetuate misinformation about guns in order to keep this nation at each other's throats. They believe as long as some of the most ardent gun owners ate vocal and out toting there guns in public, they control the message. 
  • That many gun owners look at the issue only in absolutes. 
  • That the second amendment is the most supreme law of the land and it supersedes any and all other laws. 
On the first point, it is well documented that the NRA and gun industry lobbies and spent insane amounts of money to propagate a variety of messages, drop money into the pockets of lawmakers and in general intimidate the body politic during each election cycle.

The fact that gun owners look at the issue in the form of absolutes leads to these types of responses to the overall discussion:

  1. You want to come at take all our guns away. I know of no serious legislative effort that envisions that. It is not even practical.
  2. Even with background checks, waiting periods, etc., there will still be deaths. You can't prevent them. This is a very narrow argument and again reflects an absolute ideology.  Of course it will not stop all deaths by guns, If it will somewhat stem the tide of gun proliferation it will save lives. If it will keep a firearm out of the hands of someone who should not have a gun, it will save lives. Those saved lives are important even if they are some faceless fixture in this debate. They could be a gun owner's niece, daughter, or other family member. Some will argue that we will be defenseless as a nation. That is what standing armies are for. We had no standing army when the second amendment was written. 
  3. That brings me to the second amendment... Some treat it as an absolute. It is the only license they need to be armed even in public. The second amendment should not supersede another persons right to life and liberty. I'm not advocating it's appeal, but understand that it is an amendment to the constitution (an afterthought) and it could be repealed. The 18th amendment to the constitution was repealed. Further, courts (including the U.S. Supreme Count) have indicated that it is not an absolute and it does not prevent the exercise by government of reasonable controls, restrictions, or regulation. The term "well regulated" is in fact embodied within the  amendment.  


I don't want to ban guns. I know we cannot prevent people from killing other individual even from guns or other means. I also know that the law does allow us to make reasonable regulations.
This discussion needs to be had with legislators on state and federal level. We've not really had that discussion in recent years mostly due to political  intimidation from the NRA and industry lobbyists.

If gun owners don't want to have the conversation and be a part of the solution (the NRA has already proved it doesn't) then the rest of us need to have it with our lawmakers. I know many gun owners are actually with us. I know the NRA (which one had a positive mission) no longer represents the wishes of many gun owners.

We are no longer at a point where we can just shove this under legislative carpet. This is a violent bloody mess and it has to be cleaned up.
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